translated and edited by Brett Larner
Former men's marathon world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenyan) is running the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, his first marathon in Japan. It's been six years since Tergat shocked the world when he ran the first-ever 2:04 marathon at the 2003 Berlin Marathon, but he still continues running. We interviewed the 39 year old veteran.
Why did you decide to run Biwako?
For years I've wanted to run a marathon in Japan. I do April's London Marathon every year, but although they invited me this year I decided to come to Japan. Japanese people are warm-hearted and have a sense of respect for their competitors, and they love sports more than anything. There are a lot of good runners.
What's your target time?
If the wind and temperature are suitable I'll be going for the course record [2:07:34]. I haven't had any injuries and I'm in good shape.
Your life outside running is pretty busy, isn't it?
I'm a member of the World Food Program; my work with them takes me all around the world. I was able to go to high school because of WFP support so I'm honored to be able to do something to repay them. I ask people to take part in charitable activities if they have the chance. I'm here because of people I've never met, so to me charity means rescuing someone else's life.
Do you think you can still set another world record?
To be honest it would be pretty difficult. I think future world records would probably happen in New York, Berlin or Dubai.
You've been one of the world's greatest runners ever since 1995. What are your plans after this?
I'm still running because it's what I love. I haven't had any big injuries so nothing has changed from when I was young. I want to run for a long time, do a lot of races, and, if I can, win. For me the marathon is about expressing my talents. Beyond that, I want to help the next generation of runners cultivate their own talents. As an athlete you peak years are very short, and there is enough time afterwards to do the things you want to do.
In the marathon world, the strength of Africans is outstanding. Japan is trying to learn from the Beijing Olympics, but there are voices saying, "We can't compete with Africans."
That's the wrong idea. It's important to keep training with the idea that "Nothing is impossible." When I started marathoning people told me, "You're too tall and too skinny," but that was just based other people's ideas of what a marathoner should be, not mine. Training with your own vision will lead you to victory.